June 26, 2008

Felner: The Neverending Story

Wish we could take credit even for the headline above, but it comes from the Page One Kentucky blog, which has been leading this story all week.

But wait, there's more!
People on the chancellor search committee at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside knew the man they recommended as a finalist got a no-confidence vote at the college where he was dean, but they didn’t tell the Board of Regents or the UW System president about it — raising more tough questions about the university system’s vetting process. --Journal-Sentinel

EFL Associates, the search firm responsible for finding Robert Felner for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, charged $70,000 in fees and expenses. We’re pretty much certain at this time that UW-Parkside is convulsing on the floor of its local dive bar and/or trying to drink the pain away. Can you even imagine? $70,000 and EFL didn’t turn up a damn thing?

We have uncovered information that (more than) suggests Robert Felner hired his girlfriend in January 2005 at an annual salary $20K-$30K higher than many tenured faculty -- and she had no (still doesn’t) terminal degree. She was a former high school assistant principal who now serves as co-principal on several grants in which Felner is the primary. Nearly everyone we have spoken with at the University of Louisville brings the relationship up because they say it’s indicative of greater problems (i.e, everybody hired while Felner was in charge happened to be young and blonde.)

We have also discovered that Felner threatened to leave the University of Louisville on several occasions and used written offers from other schools in order to obtain matching offers from the Provost. In 2006 Felner got an offer from Ohio State University that he claimed to be considering seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the University of Louisville gave him another raise and threw a giant party in his honor that included some interesting (to say the least) t-shirts sold to people who wanted to attend the event. --Page One Kentucky

Felner has been involved in at least one public flap involving research grants. In 2003 he resigned as dean of the University of Rhode Island's School of Education, blaming a state law for his departure. According to an account in The Providence Journal, Mr. Felner said he lost $15-million in research grants because of a cap on university staffing that prevented him from hiring enough employees to conduct the research. Calling the research a "missed opportunity," Mr. Felner told the newspaper: "Can you imagine Brown University turning down grant money?"

In the case of a failed search, consultants typically conduct a second search without charging a fee. (Jason) Meschke (president of EFL Associates) said his firm was contractually required to do so for the Parkside campus. "We are standing by the contract," he said. (Wisconsin University system spokesman David) Giroux said the system was considering the Parkside search a "teachable moment" -- Chronicle of Higher Education

The federal investigation into allegations of mishandled funds at the University of Louisville has led another university to review grant expenditures made by the dean at the center of the investigation. A spokeswoman at the University of Rhode Island, where Robert Felner worked from 1996 to 2003, confirmed today the school is reviewing his grant expenditures while he was employed there. --Louisville Courier-Journal

University of Wisconsin-Parkside officials knew as early as last Friday that there was a federal investigation into Robert Felner when agents showed up at the chancellor's office to take away boxes of paperwork he already sent here... David Giroux, a UW System spokesman, said officials weren't aware of the federal investigation until Felner informed the university in a phone call Sunday, two days after agents came to Parkside. Giroux said Parkside didn't inform UW officials of the investigation until Monday. --Kenosha News


  1. "(i.e, everybody hired while Felner was in charge happened to be young and blonde."

    A man after my own heart but in my case they would be young female and Redheads.
    Then to0 maybe RUSD should get this guy to replace Hicks

  2. Try to get the stories straight if you want to maintain credibility. It is untrue that everyone hired is young and/or blonde. Check the UofL faculty website for verification.

  3. Anon 8:10: That tidbit was mentioned in Page One Kentucky's story, and may, indeed, be hyperbolic. Nevertheless, it was further supported by a commenter on their site who wrote:

    >>Listed below are links that an inquiring reader might (first) identify as the girlfriend in question as well as some other faculty members (admittedly, only a sample) who, based on their PhD graduation date, were hired in Felner’s department during his tenure. I’m certain that any physical characteristics are purely coincidental…. ;) <<

    What followed were a series of links to faculty members' bio pages ... not all blondes, to be sure, but all attractive females. Here are the links:






  4. I like his style! My kinda guy!
    Mayor Becker could use some pointers!

  5. I know this guy on a personal level.. total douchebag! I hope they find him guilty of all kinds of crap and send him to get ass slammed by a large latino man named Paco! :)

  6. This pattern of hiring 'good looking' ladies goes back his entire career. At U of I (Illinois), his girlfriend spent her days mostly talking on the phone (or throwing up her lunch - she was sadly bulemic), and she made more than most people there. She physically left and Lil' Bobby repeatedly threatened the accounts person to have her continued to be paid. And the U of I people did little except ignore him and wait for him to leave. He used to search porn sites in his office, and hired either hard-working guys prone to being OK with being mentally abused abd threatened by him, or good looking women. Can't teach an old sociopath new tricks, I guess.